My Chameleon Costume

I’m off for four days to re-live my short-lived student life at a friend’s place up north. I’m so glad to be out of my claustrophobic home town and able to let my hair down and get totally smashed. I’ve got a bottle of vanilla vodka and a bottle of lime vodka…. not sure about the sound of the vanilla one but i’ll let you know if it is a hit. Currently I’m on a coach on my five-hour road trip, which in the UK is quite a way but I guess those of you from America will show me no sympathy!

It’ll be interesting when I meet my psychologist for the second-time next Monday after spending most of the week drunk. I wonder if she’ll judge. I don’t understand how therapists do that thing of listening yet not really reacting. I’ve always spent my time either alone or in the company of larger than life characters so having a blank canvas sat in front of me making conversation is bloody hard work.

I’ve also realised that I tend to be a social chameleon. Put me with a group of extroverts then i become an extrovert, leave me with a group of opinionated activists, and yep I become one of them too. So who the hell am when put in front of a therapist?! If she’s blank then she won’t get much from me, I might as well be invisible.

I’ll be a boozy party animal for this weekend. Next week I’ll be a domestic goddess most likely as I’m left in charge of feeding and cleaning up after both my sisters and the dog whilst my dad is away for his wedding anniversary. I am who people want me to be and I don’t know what my psychologist wants from me!!

*existential crisis of identity*  *boom*  *bang*  *head just exploded*

My Mothers’ Day Haul

As I posted about earlier in the month, (The Problem With Mothers’ Day) I’m not a fan of it. As an estranged daughter I was unsure what I should be doing to fill my time as others went out for lunch with their adoring mothers. After feeling like crap in the morning I decided that fuck it, I definitely required a new pair of Dr. Martens and whatever else I could purchase online before my card would be rejected.

Anyway, I have started to receive some of my purchases. The tally stands at three floral dresses, a rucksack and the beautiful DMs. I don’t wear dresses so as I tried them on I looked at myself and thought WTF was I thinking?!

So today is the day that I have started to return my impulsive purchases. It was fun whilst it lasted. dr materns

Drained, Tired and Disappointed

Today was the first time that I met my psychologist. After three months of waiting for an appointment I had built this image of her in my head and through no fault of her own, she didn’t quite match up. I felt weird that she was female for one; I knew she would be but I had not given up hope that there had been a mistake.

She’s the typical flowery character (don’t ask me what I mean by that I don’t know!) of someone working in community mental health services. She seemed nice but I didn’t want nice, I wanted someone reliable and with a miraculous cure. Unreasonable I know. I was also frustrated at the fact that she is so relaxed and chilled. Because of her ‘chilled-ness’ my mind jumped to the idea that of course she didn’t give two shits about me and was only there as part of her well paid job.

She sat and she scribbled down notes in an illegible manor. I disapproved of her choice of an black-ink ballpoint pen that was far too harsh on the white paper. As part of the first session she only really asked me for a brief history, previous attempts at therapy, hospitalisations, what I expected etc. I asked if she’d read my notes; she hadn’t. She said that she wanted to hear things from me so as not to form an opinion before meeting me. Did she not realise how many hours I’d spent attempting to find ANYTHING about her online?!

So yeah. What I have gained from this post is that I am an angry and unreasonable person with high, high, high expectations. I am sat on my bed wrapped in a fluffy blanket staring at the questionnaires she asked me to complete. I want to set them on fire with the lighter next to me. To watch them disintegrate and disappear.

If you don’t ask, then I won’t tell: Mental Health and Harry Potter

My younger sister has told me that because of my attempts on my life that she has come to terms with me dying prematurely and that she has pre-emptively grieved. Needless to say my heart sank and my eyes filled with tears when I heard this

I hate how much my actions have affected her. I hate even more so the fact that she sticks around knowing that she will be hurt again by me. I don’t believe that suicide is selfish, but I feel that I am for allowing her to become emotionally attached to someone who has a tendency to go into self-destruct. When I look at her, all I see is her pain and my guilt. How could I have done this to someone who has done nothing to deserve it?

Over time I have come to terms with her decision to stick around. I don’t understand that decision but hey ho. From this experience, I am acutely aware of how my illness has a way of making me feel like a burden to people who I disclose my struggles to. This is why I would never turn to a family member for help in a crisis. It is also why not many people know about my mental health issues.

As much as I know this is not true, my mind questions “why tell someone about it if you know that they will be unable to help?”. This is why I am rarely truthful to my psychiatrist or support worker. If I say that I am severely self-harming, all that they will be able to offer me is advise on wound care and when to seek medical attention and a contact number of the crisis team. They are better off not knowing in my opinion.

It is the same when I have an appointment to see a GP about a physical ailment. They look at my notes and history and ask away. How are you feeling? Have you been having dark/suicidal thoughts? Are you self-harming? I know they want to cover their back but please, if you don’t ask then I won’t tell.

All I want to scream at people is that you don’t really want to know the answers to your questions, please don’t ask. If someone could waive their magic wand over me and rid me of my self-destruction then maybe I would. I am only a muggle though and yet to see evidence of magic. Perhaps if I could find someone with a perfect patronus, maybe I could be free of the bloody dementors sat on my shoulders. I’m sick of this emptiness and the rattling of the soul-sucking. I feel as if I am rotting away in an Azkaban that fills my head.

Bellatrix-Azkaban_1013174

 

 

 

 

A Friend

People all have their own idea of what a friendship is. I find it infinitely difficult to call someone a friend because if I do, I don’t want them to become burdened with my sporadic existence. Outside of my immediate family, I would say that I have definitely one, maybe two, good friends and I like to keep it at that.

We don’t see each other often, every month or so, and only talk when we organise to meet.  The quality of our relationship has not been limited by time spent apart but rather enhanced it. As we have grown up together, instead of going our separate ways, we have gotten closer.

This is what a strong friendship is. I know that I am one of the lucky ones. Not many can boast of such a relationship.

Friendship has meant that she visited me when I was in hospital and wrote me letters whilst I was ill. She stood by me when I tried to take my own life. I can’t imagine how much stress that I have caused her.

It’s strange to think that such an unattractive personality could have warranted such loyalty. People can surprise you.

 

Since When Did I Become an Adult?

I’m still looked at suspiciously when I buy alcohol in a supermarket and don’t have the finances to buy or rent a single bed flat. Yet when I met a young boy on the street today, he  innocently referred to me as a lady and asked how many children I had. As a 20 year old, ‘millennial’ as the media likes to call us, I’m currently confused about when society expects us to become adults and what exactly the job of an adult entails.

In the UK, I legally became an adult when I was 18. Though I was ‘of age’, I was still in full time education and looking to go on to university (another 3+ years at least!). The Student Loans Company almost expects its’ recipients of their loans to depend on their parents until the age of 21+ and trust me, university is impossible without these loans. Not everyone will go on to further education, but the government is encouraging more and more of us to do so. The job market is only after those with degrees, apprenticeships or high level vocational equivalents for entry level jobs. This push for post-18 education has inadvertently further pushed the age at which youngsters can even think about flying the nest and become independent adults.

Contrarily, by law, the age at which a person can engage in sex is 16 and trusted to drive at 17 in England. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for me to have had a 3 year old child by now. So to reiterate, I could become a parent before I became an ‘adult’ and before the school leaving age of 18. That seems strange.

I hope now that you can understand my confusion. My generation has been branded ‘generation snowflake’ and yes, they may be right, but remember that because of ever-increasing house prices and a job market that caters for the highly qualified it is impossible for us to ‘grow-up’. Still living with parents is common-place for the average 25 year old. We are not lazy and idle. We are doing our best in a Peter Pan-like world that makes it harder and harder for us to become independent adults.

Why Feminism Is Still Needed

I was born female and because of it I have been groped and cat-called walking down the streets since the age of twelve.

Because I am female, when I criticise someone I am met with the disparaging question “are you on your period?”.

Because I have breasts and a womb, if I wear heels, tight jeans or a top that doesn’t hide my DDs then I am told that when I am assaulted that I was “asking for it”.

According to society, I am not only responsible for my body but also the actions of others towards it. As a young girl, I did not want to be sexualised. When experimenting with eyeliner I did not need to be told that I was a slag or a slut by my own mother. But who can blame her, she was preparing me for the real world outside of school.

Because he was male, he felt he should ‘man-up’ and deal with his depression but instead took his life. Men and women suffer as a result of gender inequality.

Feminism is not about enforcing a matriarchy. It is definitely not about hating men. Feminism is about equality, freedom and choice regardless of gender, causes that I can’t imagine many fighting against.

Yes there are greater inequalities in the world outside of the UK and developed nations, but that is why it was INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day. Besides, any injustice should not be ignored. For those fortunate enough to have not experienced sexism, then I envy you but also ask you not to invalidate others’ views of this world.

I was thinking….

 

thinkingWhat does self-harm/ cutting do for me? I know it causes physical damage to my body but I have often wondered what it does for me emotionally.

After a lot of thought and general existential questioning (yes I’ve been feeling philosophical) I think I’ve come to a MASSSIIVE realisation. It’s a bit weird, so I was hoping that other people who have self-harmed can relate.

I think it is like mindfulness to the extreme. Now hear me out, I know that mindfulness is anything but harmful, but I use increasing pain and damage to myself as a way to ground myself from my intense emotions or numbness. By being able to feel the pain and accept it and then increase the severity, I am more connected to my body.

I know, strange right. Please, anyone else’s thoughts or own self-reflection would be much appreciated.

Mental Illness is More than Just Crises

crisisFor the sake of drama and gritty storylines, most portrayals of mental health difficulties on Soaps are in the context of a severe crisis. As much as I applaud the writers for tackling such topics in an attempt to reduce stigma, I worry that instead they are worsening the epidemic of mental illness.

I am not trying to say that awareness is a bad thing, in fact I am trying to say it is the opposite. More discussion is still to be had before catering to the needs of our mental health will become as routine as caring for our physical health. Want I wish to convey is the harm that can be caused by watching characters in crisis on our screens. Suicidal, psychotic and manic are states shown in a protagonists but is not often a true reflection of the silent suffering of the 1 in 4 of the population who suffer from mental ill health. Characters in these shows frequently only get help once they have catastrophically broken down and this is not the message that TV broadcasters should be sending out to their viewers.

Instead, I want to scream: “symptoms of mental ill health occur before or without a crisis!!”

Currently there is a subliminal idea that is being spread through our TV screens, and that is that help is only warranted when you can no longer function. The message that such an influential media source should be saying is that early symptoms should not be ignored. Many disorders can be stopped in their tracks by psychological therapies if caught soon enough. The damage that can be caused by these illnesses can be reduced if we can acknowledge that mental illness does not have to mean a mental crisis.

 

 

A Twin Thing

Inspired by Beverley Blaine’s Life As Twins With Mental  Illness (a highly recommended read), I have been thinking about my own experience of life as a twin. Unlike Beverley, my sister and I are not identical and instead are so different that most people refuse to believe that we are even related. I am left-handed she right, my hair is brown whilst her’s is auburn and there is a hefty height difference of 5-6 inches. We are chalk and cheese in terms of personality as well as appearance and it seems strange to imagine that our polar identities came from the same environment and same gene pool.

Despite this we both have our struggles with our mental health. She is currently attempting to restore her weight because of her battles with anorexia and recovering from a period of depression. I am learning to deal with BPD, anxiety and self-harm. What is somewhat amusing, albeit dark, is that we both took time out from different universities and degrees because of our health within weeks of each other. We get along but we find that we have little in-common and on occasion our personalities clash so this similarity appears even more unexpected.

More strange occurrences happened throughout our schooling. For example, during SATs (British exams for 11yr-olds) we scored identically on the majority of our papers. The saddening side to our similarities is that we both share our disordered eating habits. I want to make it clear that I have never had an eating disorder unlike my sister, but I have at times in my life had disordered eating. My struggles with food started when I was 11/12 so about 8 years prior to my twin’s but after talking, we share many thought patterns and bizarre food-based rituals. It might be as a result of a similar illness, but from speaking to others with eating disorders, ours’ are somewhat specific and un-common in the eating disorder community. Depressive thought processes and symptoms also manifest similarly in the two of us and I strongly believe that because of this, we have a deeper empathy and understanding of each other.

I would like to think that I have helped her in her times of need but I do know that she has helped me. I hate seeing her pain and knowing the pain that I have caused to her in the course of my illness, but I like to look at it positively. We have just got to deal with the cards that we were both dealt.